Zen and the Art of Dealership Repairs

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Tinnitus is not my friend.  Sure, I don’t do my ears any favors by going to rock concerts, but truth be known, I hear pretty well.  That doesn’t necessarily equate to listening, which may have selective settings.

I can’t help, though, but listen to my car.  I’m kind of particular about my car.  I don’t have personify it as a “he” or a “she.”  It’s an it.  But I like it.  And when it’s not quite right, I’m not quite right.  I like the car less because it aggravates me.  It’s not in its proper state of rightness.

If you’ve driven for any length of time, you may feel the same.  Sure, it was a smooth ride when you purchased it, but, over time, your mobile residence takes on various squeaks, rattles, or pings.  Mine has a brake pedal with a spring that sounds like a goose squawking.  Then there’s a rattle inside the driver door that comes to life only in cold months.  It has something to do with the window retracting, because either a solid nudge from my elbow or a down/up with the window fixes it… for a mile or two. 

But these oddities are part of living in your environment.  Some sounds settle; some don’t.

Such as that odd chirping.  Now, where did that come from?  Or, is it a pinging?  And is it getting louder?  How long can I wait until I really  get paranoid that something is going to blow?  Agh. Is it an exhaust system issue?  Is it mechanical?  By either system, it’s the sound of entropy, and it’s not welcome in my car.

And then there’s that other aggravation.  When I purchased my car 4 years ago, the wipers liberated the windshield glass from water and grime the likes of which I had never seen.  There wasn’t a streak in sight.  The windshield was a beautiful gateway to whatever was before me come whatever elements there may be.

That was then; this is now.

Sure, I changed the blades, but… there it is.  A very unpleasant 5” wide swatch of streakiness planted right in front of my sightline.  What’s up with that?  Yes, I wiped the blades, and, yes, I tried bending the wiper frame to reorient the whole to perfect harmony, but no.

So, I’ve lived with it.  And I’ve been increasingly agitated with the car I once really, really liked.

I once attempted during a summer in High School to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I was probably a deep thinker back then, but only until something else of interest came up.  Or something less challenging.  I didn’t finish the book.  What little I “discovered” was that it made sense for someone to know how to fix whatever needs fixing.  Great in theory; difficult in practice. 

Logic only gets you so far when you have no clue how to work on your car.  I’m perfectly able to describe a problem, but I usually have no clue how to fix it.  Well… car headlights or interior bulbs… sure, I’m all over that.  But otherwise…

If I were to imagine that I knew someone who actually had the skills to fix a car, and I were to learn how to fix it, would it really matter?  I’d forget by the time I needed that skill again, or, the car model would change and what little I knew would be as outdated as Windows 3.1.  In other words, these excuses lend tribute to my aforementioned exit from Zen:  I’d take an interest only until I found something else of interest or less challenging to do. 

It’s nice that mid-life reflects such an awesome measure of growth and maturity.  Sucks to be me.

Rather, it’s expensive to be me.  $323.58 later, the chirp is gone and my windshield is now miraculously clear.  Sure, there were some extras thrown in for added service department profit (severely cracked belts are bad, right?).  And if the offending oil cooler o-ring was only a $15.00 part, so what?  I’m at peace again with my car.  That’s Zen enough for me. 

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